New Orleans Saints OTAs – Questions That Need Answers
By John Hendrix
Jun 11, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks with members of the media following organized team activities at the Saints practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Try to not explode out of your chairs or lose your cell phone, but the NFL season draws closer! Team’s organized team activities kicked off today, which makes me think about the state of the New Orleans Saints. Here’s some of my biggest questions for the team as we roll through ten days of OTAs.
Can the team escape without injury?
Over the past few seasons, OTAs have been more of a hazard in the league. The Dallas Cowboys reiterated that reality today with the news of linebacker Sean Lee, who went down with an undisclosed knee injury. Last year, the Saints lost free agent acquisition Victor Butler when he collided with running back Mark Ingram. I’d just be happy to make it through these sessions without losing a player to injury.
Which undrafted rookie free agent will ‘wow’ everyone?
Over the past few years, the Saints have seen tremendous value in undrafted rookie free agents. It’s amazing how these players rise to the challenge. It would be something to make stories just based off of the player’s journey to the league. I would peg a few that you will be hearing more about: Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman, Colorado outside linebacker Chidera Uzo-Diribe, and Sam Houston State running back Tim Flanders.
How is the health on defense?
Victor Butler, Patrick Robinson, Kenny Vaccaro, Parys Haralson are all coming off of season ending injuries last year. Now, I can personally tell you from being at the Ben Grubbs Charity Softball Game last week at Zephyr Field that Vaccaro and Haralson looked good to me. However, I’m not a doctor. I believe that these guys are completely ready to go, but Butler and Robinson might be the biggest players to worry about.
Which players are on the roster bubble?
Unless you are someone like Drew Brees or Jimmy Graham, your roster spot is not a given on the team. However, for players like Patrick Robinson, Robert Meachem, Nick Toon, and Joe Morgan, their futures are not set in stone with the team. It will be interesting to see if they elevate their play to remain on the team, or a youngster will snatch their job from them.
Which names should you become more familiar with?
Honestly, where do you start? The obvious choices will be wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman, and cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste. However, it’s the guys that were signed after the season from the Canadian Football League I’m most intrigued by. That would be safety Marcus Ball and cornerback Derrius Brooks. The Saints will use more three safety sets this season, and Ball is a ‘Roman Harper’ type player. Brooks has a strong chance to make the team a slot corner or special teams standout.
Which position battles are going to be the most entertaining to watch?
In this particular order: Cornerback, Wide Receiver, Center, Kick/Punt Returner, Outside Linebacker that isn’t Junior Galette
Will we see Jimmy Graham or Jonathan Goodwin?
Graham? No. Unless a miracle long-term deal happens. As for Goodwin? I’m sure these OTAs will let us know.
Is Derek Dimke going to challenge Shayne Graham?
He very well could. Dimke pushed Tampa Bay’s Rian Lindell last year, but the Bucs ended up staying with the veteran. We know that Graham isn’t the long-term solution the team needs, but his consistency makes him a safe choice.